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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Homily Memorial of Saint John Vianney 4 August 2006

Vocations Day 4 August 2006

Thank yous, etc...

Dearest brothers and sisters in Christ…
Saint John Vianney would be most pleased with you today.
If he were here with us…
he would be overjoyed with all we have done here this day…
with the great love and affection you have shown our Lord.
Today, as a parish community, we have opened our doors
to those who came seeking to learn more about vocations in the Church.
We began the day with Mass.
We honored our Blessed Mother Mary with the Rosary…
and recalled Christ’s Passion with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
We stood watch hour by hour in prayer with Jesus
present in the Blessed Sacrament.
We have learned…discussed…prayed…and worshipped.
And now we come to the close of our Church Vocations Day…
as we gather to celebrate the Liturgy of Vespers.

Yes, Saint John would be very happy with us today…
because John Vianney was truly a priest of Jesus Christ!
John Vianney tended the flock entrusted to his care…
eagerly…willingly…lovingly…
and in heaven he has received the unfading crown of glory.

He is most popularly known as a confessor.
Estimates vary…
but we know that he spent at least 12 hours every day in the confessional…
hearing the confessions of people who came from all over France to see him,
not because of his own merit…but because the light of Christ
shown through his simple life and caring smile.

But there are many other facets to his life as well.
Despite his intellectual limits, by God’s grace he was a great teacher and preacher.
He was a man of deep prayer, who loved the Liturgy,
and spent time with the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament constantly.
He was one who thought little of his own needs,
living on simple meals, sleeping little,
enduring temptations of the Devil,
witnessing to the sufferings of Christ,
and offering all for the sake of the flock he loved so dearly.
He was given the power to teach, to shepherd, and to sanctify the Body of Christ…
but never for a moment did he lord it over the people of his parish of Ars.
Instead, he gave his whole life for their sake.

Yes, John Vianney was truly a priest after the heart of Christ…
a priest who loved the Church.
He is an example to the flock…
especially to priests and to everyone aspires to the priesthood.
John Vianney’s life pointed the way to Christ.
For him, the priesthood was not about him but about Jesus!

This is the same question every priest and deacon must ask himself:
How am I leading the flock closer to Christ?

The essence of the qualities we admire in John Vianney
are an example to every baptized person.
We can all ask ourselves these questions:
What is different about people I have met since I have entered their lives?
How have I pointed the way to Christ and lead others closer to Him?

Every baptized person is called to a unique vocation…
to a unique mission from God.
Most people are called to married life.
Some married men are also called to the Permanent Diaconate…
a vital role of service in the Church.
And some men and women are called to a celibate vocation…
as religious brothers and sisters or as priests.
We are all called to be living examples of self-giving love…
and to point the way to Christ in a unique way.

It is incumbent upon each of us to seriously discern God’s call for our lives…
and to respond generously to whatever he asks of us.

In a world of distractions, it is often hard to hear the voice of God.
So, we have to work hard
to promote an atmosphere that is open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
In our homes, a vocation in the Church ought to be a legitimate option…
right alongside firefighter, doctor, teacher, and every other child’s dream.
It is good to encourage each other in the discernment of our vocations
and invite others to consider priesthood and religious life.

Despite what the world tries to tell us…
despite the negative attitude many have toward the sacrifice of celibacy…
the life of one who serves the Church is a life of grace and joy…
a life rewarded both in heaven…and in this life as well.

I have already experienced that joy for myself
in the three months since my ordination as a deacon.

My journey began seven years ago when I entered college seminary.
I readily admit that there have been moments of tremendous joy
and times of intense trial…
days…like final exams…when I would rather do anything else…
and days when I could not possibly do anything else.

And on April 29th I placed my hands in the bishop’s hands…
and laid prostrate on the floor of Saint Columba Cathedral…
and yes, I cried a little.
Not tears of sadness…but tears of joy.
Because I was there, in the midst of a most beautiful liturgy…
surrounded by the people I love the most…
and I joyfully and humbly accepted the call of the Lord.
When the reality of ordination finally sank in during the days after…
I must admit it was a little frightening.
There is a lot to get used to.
Service to the Church is not something to be ever taken lightly.

But since that day, I had the singular joy and privilege of bringing into the Church
a sweet little girl named Molly Ann…
who turned her head just in time to have the baptismal water run in her eyes!
The reward has come already.
It would all be worth it just for that little girl, who claims Christ as her savior.
But there will be many more…baptisms, weddings, funerals…
And so, I thank God for the grace of my own ordination…
And to all those who are pondering priesthood or religious life, I say:
fear not…have faith…Jesus needs you right now!

May all we have celebrated to today in our Church Vocations Day…
inspire us to live the example of John Vianney’s humble service to God…
and to respond to our own unique vocation with love and fidelity.

3 comments:

JerrodFowkes said...

Deacon Albright,

Hello, It's Jerrod Fowkes, I am sure you know me from Giant Eagle. I would like to post some comments about your homilies on here. However, I think it would be appropriate to ask your permission first since I am not anonymous. Also, your site doesn't display your e-mail address. You can respond at JerrodFowkes@yahoo.com if you like. Thank you -Jerrod Fowkes

Denise said...

Hey, I know Jerrod too! :)

My comment is: Dc. Matt when are you going to post another homily or your thoughts on some pressing issue for us?

Patiently awaiting....
Denise et al
Minerva....

JerrodFowkes said...

Wonderful. I recognize some of your styles almost immediately. It is of something that I have grown up with. This homily in particular would be something that catches my attention and I am a fan. However, I worry about it's appeal to an audience that has already deemed holy orders "not for them", which I suppose most would be younger. At the same time, I understand you can't be a salesman as well.